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How to keep your cat safe from skin cancer and other hazards in hot summer weather

Written by Samantha Lade, Donr

Published on Tuesday, 26th June 2018

How you can keep your cat safe from skin cancer and other hazards in hot weather

Cat owners are being urged to protect their pets from sun exposure during the current heatwave, as they may be at risk of developing sunburn and skin cancer.

Cats Protection says cats with white or pale ears or noses are particularly susceptible to the sun's harmful rays – with some needing drastic surgery to repair sun damaged skin.

The charity also warns that white cats don't have a pigment called melanin in their skin, which is what protects humans from sunlight.

This can leave them vulnerable to sun damage, usually around the ears.

One cat, 13-year-old Tiara, had her ears removed before coming into Cats Protection's Bridgend Adoption Centre.

Louise Waters, Cats Protection spokesperson, said: 'Not everyone realises that cats can develop skin cancer from too much sun exposure and certain pale cats, like Tiara, are more at risk.

'Over time, the damage caused can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma which is a skin cancer that occurs when the skin becomes damaged from overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.'

The charity advise that instead, the best way to protect your cat is to keep them indoors during the hottest part of the day in summer months. 

If this is not possible, owners can also ask their vet to recommend a suitable sunscreen.

Whilst most cats will be perfectly safe in summer, there are other potential hazards owners may wish to be aware of. The charity have therefore offered the following tips for the summer months:

 1. Encourage your cat to drink more by placing water bowls away from food bowls, using glass, ceramic or metal bowls instead of plastic and making sure they are large with a big surface area.

2. Read the label on pest control products – slug pellets containing metaldehyde can prove fatal to cats.

3. Take care with barbecues to ensure coals are properly cooled and avoid any nasty burns.

4. Check your plants and flowers are feline friendly – certain ones can be toxic to cats, particularly lilies.

5. Keep the doors of sheds and greenhouses shut – be careful not to accidentally trap cats inside outbuildings during hot weather.

6. Ensure appropriate flea treatment, as fleas thrive in hot weather.

More information on how to look after cats in hot weather can be found on the Cat's Protection website.